Update: 2 Games Down, Royal Lead Series 2-0
Wow. What a World Series it has been so far. That first game was a treat for everyone. Even though the Mets ultimately came up short in Game 1, they put on a great showing and gave us a competitive, entertaining start to the Fall Classic. Game 2 was only a treat for Royals fans, but I have a feeling there’s still more great stuff in store for both teams.
Game 1 Review
Game 1 was one for the history books. The action started at the bottom of the first with the first Mets pitch of the game: an opening fastball that Alcides Escobar smacked deep into the outfield for an inside the park homerun. That was the first inside-the-park homer in a World Series game since 1929 and the first one off an opening pitch since 1903.
That was just the beginning of a game that gave us 14 innings (the longest Game 1 in World Series history), a random power outage that actually delayed the game for a few minutes and then the sad news that Edinson Volquez’s father had passed away in the Dominican Republic just before the game.
Game 1 also included a rare Eric Hosmer error that gave the Mets in the lead in the 8th, a 9th inning homerun by Alex Gordon to tie the game and then Hosmer’s redemption with a 14th inning sacrifice fly that sent Alcides Escobar home to win the game.
And honestly, I’m not giving Game 1 the justice it deserves. This one will be talked about for a long time. That game was truly a gift for all baseball fans. Even though the Mets couldn’t quite close the deal, they shouldn’t feel too bad about the way that one went. They took the game to the 14th inning and very nearly advanced past everything the renowned Royals bullpen could throw at them.
That set us up for a Game 2 that was still anyone’s to win.
Game 2 Review
Going in to Game 2, both the Mets and Royals were well aware that just the slimmest of margins separated victory and defeat. One more error, one less error, one more easy fly out could have changed things completely. Game 2 was still up for grabs.
Game 2 ended up being a Royals game through and through on the back of Johnny Cueto. Royals fans everywhere wondered which version they would get: the one who gave up eight runs to the Blue Jays in the ALCS or the one who could show up, pitch a complete game and give up just 2 hits. The latter is exactly what the Royals got.
Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom threw four solid innings to begin Game 2 and give the Mets a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth. But, things went downhill in the bottom of the fifth, which saw the Royals earn four runs off five singles. The Royals added three more against the bullpen in the 8th to finish this game 7-1.
One of the stories leading up to this game has been that of the power pitching Mets vs. the contact hitting Royals. Last night, it was all about that Royals contact hitting. Over 94 pitches from deGrom, the Royals swung and missed just three times. This was also the second time ever that deGrom notched more walks than strikes.
If there’s anything positive I can offer to our Mets readers out there, it’s that this is exactly how the last Mets World Series started in 1986:
Game 1: Loss by 1 Game 1: Loss by 1
Game 2: Loss by 6 Game 2: Loss by 6
Game 3: Win by 6 Game 3: ???
If there’s anyone out there who needs reminding, yes, the Mets went on to win the 1986 World Series. The negative take on this is that if you look at general stats, the team that loses the first 2 games only goes on to win the World Series about 17% of the time. If you narrow that down to opening road game losses, the percentage improves to 20%.
Game 3 Betting Lines
The Mets can now go home, regroup and come back fresh for an important home game. Despite their troubles in the first two games, they could very well win the next one at home. Mets fan can take heart knowing that teams that lose the first two World Series games on the road go on to win the first home game more than half the time.
It feels really stupid to say it, but I can’t help it: this is a must-win Mets game. After letting such a close Game 1 slip away, it wasn’t all that bad. It was a close game. The Mets took it deep and could have come back with a strong Game 2 to show just how close that game was. Instead, they didn’t get anything going and got hosed.
OK, forget all that. The Mets get a fresh start at home. That’s what World Series caliber teams do; they stay in command mentally. The Mets are going to go home and give the crowd at least one home win. They’re going to play like it’s Game 7 because that’s what they have to do. A Game 3 win will provide a necessary morale boost and put this series back within reach.
The Royals have other plans. In simple Royals fashion, they’re going to “do their best” and try to win. That’s all they ever say. This is not a team prone to wide-eyed boasting. Their bullpen is rested thanks to a magnificent outing by Johnny Cueto and Yordano Ventura has some room to breathe with a 2-0 lead.
The Quick Details
- Game 3: Friday, October 30th at 8:07 PM ET
- Citi Field in New York
- Mets Pitcher: Noah Syndergaard
- Royals Pitcher: Yordano Ventura
Current World Series Odds
The Mets aren’t out by a long shot. They’ve been here before and nothing is guaranteed this early in the series. They are definitely underdogs to win the World Series now that two games are done, but so were the Royals going in to this series. If the betting odds were perfect predictors, nobody would ever bet on baseball.
Meanwhile, the Royals are going to keep doing what they always do: find a way to win. They got a mouth full of foul-tasting defeat last year and they are not going to let that happen again now that they have a rare second chance. Losing the World Series again is simply not an option.
Now, we go back to the original post before the update:
The New York Mets and Kansas City Royals meet Tuesday evening at Kauffman Stadium for Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. It’s shaping up to be a great series between two expansion teams that haven’t won a World Series in three decades. Kansas City won its last title in 1985, while the Mets last won the title in 1986.
This will be the first World Series appearance for the Mets in fifteen years – they last reached this stage in 2000 with a loss to the Yankees. For the Royals, this marks the second year in a row the team has made it this far in the postseason. Last year, the Royals played the Giants in a 7-game series in which the Royals ultimately came up short. Prior to that, the Royals experienced a 29-year postseason drought.
As far as betting on the 2015 World Series goes, the bookmakers have priced this series very closely. Depending on where you check, the odds are right around 10/11 (-110) for both teams. I’ve seen some books give the slight edge to the Royals, and others give the advantage to the Mets.
Baseball betting sites have not yet posted any markets on the first game. So far, all we have are wagers on the series as a whole. Royals managers Ned Yost is playing his cards close to his chest and will not reveal his starting pitcher until Monday’s media day later today. Speculation has it that Yost will start Game 1 with Edinson Volquez and Game 2 with Johnny Cueto. Meanwhile, the Mets have already announced their lineup with Matt Harvey starting in Game 1.
Predicting the Winner is a Guessing Game
This is such a difficult series to predict with the teams so closely priced and the simple fact that anything can happen in a 7-game series. I won’t offer any predictions today (it would just be a guessing game at this point), but instead will give you some things to consider before you bet on the Mets v. Royals.
The Mets have the advantage in starting pitchers; the Royals have the better bullpen
The New York mats have the clear advantage in starting pitching between Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey. On the other side, the Royals have the best bullpen between Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson.
The best chances for the New York Mets to win games is to score early on Royals starters so they don’t end up relying on run scored against a dominant Royals bullpen. Kansas City will need to rely on its defense to hold the Mets long enough to give the Royals offense a chance to retire Mets starters as early as possible.
The Royals offense is fast and fundamental
The Royals offense is deceptively effective for a team that ranks 24th in regular season homeruns. They can certainly hit home runs when they need them, but it is their reliance on solid, fundamental hitting that gives this team chances to score. Royals hitters are very good at putting the ball in play and getting people on base.
Once the Royals start making contact, things get dicey for opposing pitchers. The Royals are fast runners. Lorenzo Cain clocked the winning run in the Royals-Blue Jays series in the bottom of the eights by moving all the way from 1st to the home plate off an Eric Hosmer single. Amazingly, that wasn’t a fluke. It was the second time this postseason that Cain scored from first base off a single.
Moreover, the Royals do not strike out. They put a premium on making contact so they can set up their fast-moving, base-stealing offense in scoring position. With 973 strikeouts for the season, the Royals struck out fewer times than any season in the MLB this year.
That’s also what makes this game interesting; Mets pitching ranked 10th in the regular season for strikeouts compared to the Royals’ 22nd place ranking in that area.
Why the Mets Will Win the World Series
Early game pitching will take the Mets to the title. With the best starting pitchers in the game, the Mets have every opportunity to start games in their favor and capitalize on forcing the Royals to play catchup later in every game.
While the Mets have a great starting pitching lineup, their offense is currently running white hot with Daniel Murphy homering in six straight postseason games and Lucas Duda amounting a 1.355 OPS in the NLCS. If the streak continues, they’re going to give the Royals starters fits and put even more pressure on the KC bullpen and offense.
Why the Royals Will Win the World Series
If the Royals can keep games close through the first five or six innings, they’ll have a great shot at putting runs on the board later in the game while simultaneously keeping the Mets in check with a stellar bullpen. The Royals can do this because they are as good as any team in the league against strong pitching. With the fewest strikeouts in the league and the highest batting average against fastballs, the Royals have the tools to deal with anything the Mets throw at them.
The Royals have the slight advantage in runs scored per game in the postseason (5.73) compared to the Mets (4.78). This will be key in helping the Royals stay competitive early in the game until they can close it out with that killer bullpen and an offense that stays active to the very last inning. The Royals also have the home field advantage in their favor thanks to the AL winning the All-Star Game.
World Series Predictions from Around the Web
I may be hesitant to pick a clear winner in this series, but other writers around the web have no such reservations. If you need a real pick, here are a couple points of view from different resources.
Danny Webster at Bleacher Report: Kansas City (Game 1 only)
“This is the first time this postseason the Mets are facing a team with successful postseason experience. As the series rolls on, New York may be able to settle down and make this a competitive series. But the Royals are at home, and that alone gives them an advantage.”
Anthony Riccobono at IB Times: New York for the Championship
“A win in four or five games by either team would be surprising. The Mets starting pitching is too good for them to lose in a short series, and the Royals seem to always find ways to win. But New York has the advantage in the rotation and on offense, and going 4-1 on the road this postseason means they shouldn’t be affected much by not having home-field advantage. Kansas City has the edge in late, close games, but their bullpen isn’t quite as good as it was last year. The Mets are the better team, and the Royals could see another team celebrate a championship at Kauffman Stadium for a second straight year.”
CBS Sports Handicappers: 3 for KC, 2 for NY
CBS Sports asked five of its staff to predict the World Series. Three picked the Royals to win the series 4-3 while two picked the Mets to win 4-3. The one consensus in their predictions is that this series will play all the way to the seventh game.